Promoting social liberalism, the Liberal Democrats voice strong support for constitutional reform, civil liberties, and higher taxes for public services. Although the party objects to state limitations on individual rights, it does favour a welfare state that provides for the necessities and amenities of life. Lib Dems support multilateral foreign policy, opposing British participation in the War in Iraq and supporting the withdrawal of troops from the country. They are the most pro-European Union of the three main parties in the UK. The party has strong environmentalist values—favouring renewable energy and commitments to deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Since their foundation, Lib Dems have advocated electoral reform to use proportional representation, hoping to replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber.
Paull Robathan, 61, has had over 35 years' experience of working in a wide range of environments including the NHS, international business, universities and local government. Originally from Wales, he studied for an MBA at London Business School and was Visiting Fellow at Imperial College. He is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and a Chartered IT Professional. A former Leader of South Somerset District Council, he is particularly proud of his work with the Somerset Waste Partnership, a national leader in reducing waste and increasing recycling. As a District Councillor, he is Chairman of South Somerset Together, the Local Strategic Partnership recognised in February 2010 as the best in the country. He is a Board Member of Raglan Housing, one of the leading Housing Associations in the UK with many homes in the South West, and is a Governor of Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust at Musgrove Hospital, Taunton. He and his wife Margaret have two grown-up children.
1. What benefits from your heavy involvement in local government do you think you would bring to East Devon voters, were you to be elected as their MP?
I understand how MPs and Councillors can work together, and where they must defer to each other. Case work is a complex and sensitive aspect of our work but is made much easier by effective collaboration within the frame of data protection and personal freedom. Knowing how to interact with Council Officers, and for them to know 'where I am coming from' eases the way to resolving constituents' issues quickly. I also have many years' experience as Chairman of the Local Strategic Partnership and that has opened up many ways in which I have built strong working links with Natural England, National Trust, Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency and many others.
Lib Dems boast that they understand rural Britain like no other party
4. You've come from South Somerset District Council. What impact do you feel you've made already in the East Devon constituency?
Some of East Devon's breathtaking scenery:
True, but hardly the complete picture. I have not looked at any other responses before completing this, so I am relying on your summary. Young people are a significant component of our population. I spoke to a sizeable number of them at Exmouth Community College just this week and their fears are for the planet, the cost of education, and just who has the right answers to the economic situation we find ourselves in. The constituency is home to many many small businesses, working hard to deliver high quality services in tourism, farming, light industry, retail and many others – it's my job to make sure they get access to loans, support from agencies and are recognised for what they are, the lifeblood of the local economy. Developments at Exeter and East Devon Growth Point are potentially in a different league; my experience of business start ups, innovation and technology should prove useful.
Lib Dems: "More morally upright than their rivals?"
Above: The European Parliament in Brussels. Lib Dems say that they understand the need to work with allies in a globalised world
10. Your biography makes no mention of hobbies, though I've discovered mention of your Somerset vineyard on your blog http://paullrobathan.blogspot.com/ What other hobbies do you have time for in your busy life and what do you enjoy about them?